Monday, July 23, 2012

She doesn't teach like you

I've taught 8th grade for the past four years.  By the end of the year I feel like the kids are my own and I worry about them when they go to high school.  I love when they come back to visit and catch me up with everything that's going on and how they're doing.

This year I heard the same comment more than once.

"She doesn't teach like you do."

Part of me takes it as a compliment, but mostly it makes me sad.  They say this in explaining why they aren't doing well in math this year.  These are kids that don't have a history of being great students.  They aren't the most motivated, but in my class they were.  They participated, they studied, they came for extra help and they passed my class.

I know that blaming their teacher isn't right, and they could probably be doing a lot more to help themselves. Trust me, I know this, but it still just makes me sad.

In longer conversations with them on the subject I asked whether maybe it is just that they liked me better as a teacher.  I told them that I'm sure their teacher is just as great and smart and good at explaining things.  They disagreed.  They said that the difference is, "It's like she doesn't want to teach."  Whether or not this is true, it's so disappointing that the kids feel this way.

If nothing else, my kids know that I want to teach them.  I teach them during every free moment that I have, whether it's required or not.  I don't even stop at math.  I help them set up binders for all their classes.  I help them study or look things up for history or science or even health.  I help them learn tricks to remember things and make flashcards.  Sometimes this takes a lot of time, but I feel that if I don't do it no one else will.  Nothing beats the feeling when that kid comes running into my room to share the A he just got on a history quiz that we studied really hard for.

The reason they did well for me was because they knew I cared.  They knew that I really wanted to teach them.  They noticed that when they opened up and let me help them that they started to improve and feel more confident in themselves.  I could have easily take the "It's not my job" attitude, but I just can't.  I know it's not my job, and I'm certainly not getting paid anything for my extra time but I can't just give up on them.

This is why it makes me so sad to hear, "She doesn't teach like you do."  It breaks my heart to see them struggling again.  I have no idea about the quality of instruction they're getting, but I do know that all they really want is someone to care as much as I did and not just write them off as the lazy, unmotivated kid yet again.

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